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'The Vampire Diaries' bosses reveal the seven biggest debates from the writers' room, and the two smallest

Five seasons in and 100 episodes later, the writers behind all things related to Mystic Falls, the Salvatore brothers, and of course, doppelgängers have given us countless twists, turns, and heartbreaking memorable moments. But what were the stories that turned out differently than they expected? And if that’s the case, what had been their original plan? Was Elena originally going to remain a vampire? Actually, no. Was Jeremy always going to come back from the dead? Again, not so much. We caught up with executive producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries to get a look back at seven of the biggest debates from the writers room over the past 100 episodes, as well as a glimpse into two storylines they never questioned and the real reason why the Originals are immortal (Hint: It wears a suit.).

Check out the biggest debates below:

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'The Originals': Showrunner Julie Plec's do's and don'ts of launching a spinoff

We’re one week away from the premiere of The Originals, the CW’s Vampire Diaries spinoff built around Original siblings Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Klaus (Joseph Morgan), and Rebekah (Claire Holt). We asked exec producer Julie Plec for the rules of launching a spinoff. Here, expanded from EW’s Fall TV preview issue, she shares seven of them:

• Establish a new heartbeat — if romance drives TVD, family drives The Originals. “People are always asking how will it be different, and why should I care about watching two versions of the same world. And that is the key: You just can’t retell the same story with different players in a different location,” Plec says. While The Vampire Diaries is best known for Damon and Stefan battling for Elena’s heart, the war in The Originals is over control of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), a former protégé of vicious vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus, has created a community where vampires rule by exiling the werewolves and oppressing the witches. When the witches demand that Klaus do their bidding against Marcel, noble Elijah sees a chance to reunite his bickering family in a town they used to call home. “The Originals want it because they helped build it. Marcel wants it because he’s developed a community of vampires who can run around without a lot of restrictions. The witches can’t leave without giving up access to all their ancestral magic. And the humans are like, ‘Hands off, everybody. We’ve been here just as long as you have. It’s still a human’s town,’” Plec says. “Everybody’s fighting for a home to call their own and a place to plant their roots for themselves and for their family.”
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'Vampire Diaries' scoop: Meet six fresh faces for season 5

When The Vampire Diaries returns for its fifth season on Oct. 3, fans may feel like they’re watching a new show: Elena (Nina Dobrev) is officially with Damon (Ian Somerhalder), and she and Caroline (Candice Accola) are now students at nearby Whitmore College. Damon is living with Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), who’s still the only one who knows Bonnie (Kat Graham) died while resurrecting him. And Stefan (Paul Wesley), villain Silas’ surprise doppelgänger, remains trapped in a water-logged safe drowning over and over again. “He has all these weird dreams and visions,” Wesley says, “and when he gets out, it’s almost like PTSD.”

All those changes mean many new, and very pretty, faces will be joining our Mystic Falls favorites. We asked exec producers Julie Plec and Caroline Dries to make some introductions. Click on Launch Photo Gallery for the who’s who.

'The Vampire Diaries' at Comic-Con: The cast on Elena and Damon, the big 100th episode, and college plans

The Project: The Vampire Diaries

The Panel: Nina Dobrev (Elena), Ian Somerhalder (Damon), Paul Wesley (Stefan), Kat Graham (Bonnie), Candice Accola (Caroline Forbes), Caroline Dries (writer), Julie Plec (Executive Producer), moderated by Debra Birnbaum

Footage Screened: Before the panel began, the audience got a three-part recap of the past four seasons, with one focusing on the most recent and Silas. The others played as a kind of “best of” compilation of Elena and Stefan, and Elena and Damon. It got pretty sexy.

Snap Judgment: The people have spoken screamed and Damon is the vampire of choice. Somerhalder even pulled out a chair for Executive Producer Julie Plec when she came to join the panel and then gave her and Kat Graham kisses on the cheek. Smooth fellow. But overall, things seem to be in transition in The Vampire Diaries universe, and everyone is getting their footing in these new settings and relationships. Somerhalder said of Elena’s choice, “I thought they were joking. Damon never gets the girl. It’s always Stefan.” Wesley quickly chimed in: “Don’t underplay your sexy blue eyes. Don’t downplay the Smolder-halder.” Then, Wesley added with a laugh, “Enjoy it buddy. I did it for three years.”
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'Vampire Diaries' finale postmortem: EP Julie Plec on the cure, the Silas twist, Bonnie's future

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched The Vampire Diaries season finale, stop reading now. Exec producer Julie Plec talked to us about who was originally going to get the cure, how long that Silas twist was in the works, and how much of Bonnie we’ll be seeing next season… READ FULL STORY

'Vampire Diaries': EP Julie Plec talks the genesis of Klaus' baby news, teases tonight's Silas twist

As The Vampire Diaries approaches the end of its fourth season, things are changing. Graduation in the May 16 season finale isn’t even the start of it. In the episode last month that set the course for Klaus (Joseph Morgan) to return to New Orleans in the fall for the Originals spinoff, we learned that Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) is pregnant with his child. The idea for Klaus to procreate with a werewolf was something that came up in the writers’ room at the beginning of the season, exec producer Julie Plec says.

“We had always talked about, at some point in the series, dealing with a vampire pregnancy, but we couldn’t really ever figure out the science behind that and also didn’t want to break any rules. And when we started talking about giving Klaus a really powerful journey for season 4 — regardless of whether there’d be a spin-off or not — we thought, well, where’s his character coming from and where does it need to go? What could we do to really, really blow his mind? And we realized, this is a guy who everything he’s ever done — all his ego, all his paranoia, all his anger — is a result of feeling like this family has completely failed him. So what better way to rock his world than to introduce a new element of family?” Plec says. “We came up with the idea that because of him being the Original Hybrid there could be a loophole, and him realizing he got a werewolf girl pregnant. [The writers] were in two rooms: One room was working on episode 2, and one room was working on episode 3. And in the episode 2 room, where I was, I don’t know how it came up, but I leapt out of my chair and ran down the hall and pitched it to the other room. I didn’t even give them a chance to disagree. Who knows if they loved it or hated it? They were so bombasted by my enthusiasm. Everybody was like, ‘Whoa! Whoa!’ So that was a story line we were intending to play, even if there was no spinoff that came to fruition.” READ FULL STORY

'Vampire Diaries': EP Julie Plec previews the season finale -- PHOTOS

The Vampire Diaries season finale doesn’t air until May 16, but the “Graduation” photos have arrived.

“It’s difficult to throw an event in Mystic Falls without it going catastrophically awry, but one of the things that was really important to us is that we do give this event itself its due,” says executive producer Julie Plec, who cowrote the episode with Caroline Dries. “We approached this episode, in its own way, like a series finale because our character’s graduating from high school is a shift in the show to open up a lot of new storytelling opportunities and new environments. So we really wanted to be able to get all the emotion out of this episode that we could before we move on to a different life. We made sure that in spite of everything that’s going on in the midst of it, we still get those great friendship moments and nostalgia moments that I, as a fan of TV over the decades, loved so much on high school shows as you reached that milestone.”

Will there be a death at graduation? “There will definitely be an altercation resulting in some blood loss, but that’s about all I can say,” Plec teases.

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'Vampire Diaries': Klaus wants his kingdom back in promo for Originals' backdoor pilot -- VIDEO

In the April 25 episode of The Vampire Diaries, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) heads to New Orleans to investigate the threat of witches mobilizing against him. What he finds, as you see in the extended promo below, is his former protegé Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) ruling the Big Easy and having everything Klaus has ever wanted: power, loyalty, family, and slow-motion walks through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. What would The Originals be about if this backdoor pilot turns into a series on The CW’s fall schedule? Klaus sums it up: “I want to be king.”

For a closer look at the new characters introduced in the episode, plus spoilers from exec producer Julie Plec, Morgan, and Daniel Gillies, click here.

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'Vampire Diaries': Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies on filming Originals spin-off pilot in New Orleans -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTO

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on newsstands today, we have the exclusive first look at the April 25 episode of The Vampire Diaries, which serves as a backdoor pilot for an Originals spinoff set in The Big Easy. In that hour, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) return to New Orleans — a city they helped build, then fled about 100 years ago when Mikael chased them out — and find that Klaus’ former protégé Marcel (The Game‘s Charles Michael Davis) has turned it into a town where, for all intents and purposes, vampires walk the streets freely. “Marcel’s got people to look the other way while they have these crazy hedonistic parties and do whatever they want,” Morgan says. Shooting one of those soirees earlier this month at New Orleans’ Hotel Royal, which doubled for Marcel’s home, proved memorable for the actor… READ FULL STORY

'Vampire Diaries' spin-off: The redemption of Klaus, the unraveling of Elijah? -- EXCLUSIVE

Daniel Gillies’ Elijah returns to The Vampire Diaries tonight, and as he’s already teased for us, Elijah’s going to “shock and possibly even horrify.” That’s something fans might need to get comfortable with… READ FULL STORY

'Vampire Diaries': Daniel Gillies on Elijah's return -- 'He's gonna shock and possibly even horrify'

In next week’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, Elijah is back. “There’s been a lot of talk about what I’m returning for and to do,” Daniel Gillies says. The episode’s synopsis simply states that Elena has a “surprising encounter” with Elijah in Pennsylvania, where she and Rebekah are headed in their search for Katherine and the cure. “All I can say is tune in,” Gillies says, “because Elijah’s gonna shock and possibly even horrify a few. In fact, I’ll say he’s gonna horrify many. But franky, I don’t care. I think what he’s doing is wonderful.”

Exec producer Julie Plec is even more vague: “The first glimpse of Elijah, your heart explodes, you’re so happy to see him. And he is quintessential Elijah, dressed in his beautiful suit with his lovely demeanor, and, as always, trying to find ways to keep Klaus in his place and keep his family together.” (That’s also what Elijah will be doing in the April 25 episode, which serves as the backdoor pilot for the Originals spinoff.)

After this week’s episode, in which Silas put the white oak stake in Klaus’ back and threatened to do worse if he doesn’t get him the cure, Klaus appears to need all the help he can get. While promo shots show Caroline with him — is she getting the splinters out? — we like the shirtless shot of Joseph Morgan, above, the best. Which leads us to an important question: READ FULL STORY

The Women Who Run TV: Q&A with 'Vampire Diaries' EP Julie Plec

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, we speak to the women behind the shows we love, and that includes The Vampire Diaries‘ exec producer Julie Plec, who weaves an epic tale of vampire romance — and loneliness — with twists that make us gasp, swoon, and sob. Here, Plec, 40, shares how she went from TV fan to showrunner, where she gets her inspiration, who is her secret weapon, what she and Kevin Williamson were doing when they “met and fell in love,” and when they decided how TVD would ultimately end.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you first moved to LA, what did you set out to do?

JULIE PLEC: I embarrass myself repeatedly when I say this, because I find it to be so terribly shallow. I wish I could say, “Oh, having read Shakespeare, I just really wanted to be a storyteller.” No. I wanted to work in Hollywood. I was captivated by it. I read Premiere magazine, and Movieline magazine, and Us before it was a weekly magazine. I read Tiger Beat and Bop from the time I was 9, 10, 11 years old. I loved movies. I saw E.T. seven times. I used to yell at people who called me when L.A. Law was on because they should know better. So I just have been so in love with the business of Hollywood since I can remember. And I just sorta said, “Well, I ‘m gonna go. I’m gonna do something.” And what’s hilarious is that I was a film major at Northwestern, and I transferred out of the film program halfway through because I thought, “Well, I don’t want to be a director, and I can’t write, and producers are only into the money, so I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do.” I ended up with an interdepartmental major where I did a lot of theater, a lot of communications, and some film work. I learned more about who I am, and how to be a great worker, and a great artistic worker, from doing student theater. I was a stage manager, I was an assistant stage manager, I was on the running crew. I did probably 25 shows at Northwestern, all musicals of course. [LaughsREAD FULL STORY

'Vampire Diaries': Julie Plec talks new Delena (and Stebekah?) developments

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen this week’s “After School Special” episode of The Vampire Diaries, stop reading now. The central love triangle took another interesting turn. We asked showrunner Julie Plec for a hint of what’s to come.  READ FULL STORY

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